First thing this morning, with Starbucks in hand, I had a brief conversation with Caroline Dixon about this recent blog post:
And like an ipod, these quotes shuffled and replayed in my mind throughout the day …
“New England is the least-churched area of the nation.”
“There is no high attendance at Easter and Christmas, because nobody even has the nostalgia factor driving them to recapture childhood visits to church.”
“The need for gospel-centered missional churches throughout New England is dire.”
Caroline grew up in New England. She graduated from Harvard. She understands this culture. She gets it. Because she’s lived it. Unlike this southern girl who is accustomed to the societal club of church. And so, for the last dozen hours, I’ve been reminded of how thankful I am for Gordon-Conwell. Not only for my theological education, but for its founders, for its strategic location, for its mission:
Article 1: To encourage students to become knowledgeable of God’s inerrant Word, competent in its interpretation, proclamation and application in the contemporary world. Because the teaching of God’s Word is indispensable to the well-being and vitality of God’s people, the seminary has a fundamental responsibility to encourage in its students a love for Scripture. The seminary is to teach exegetical skills by which they will be able to apply Scripture effectively.
Article 2: To maintain academic excellence in the highest tradition of Christian scholarship in the teaching of the biblical, historical and theological disciplines. Theological education, which is properly done within and for the Church, ought to function with rigor and academic integrity. The seminary, therefore, must provide an environment within which teaching and learning can best occur and encourage high levels of scholarly competence and research in its faculty.
Article 3: To train and encourage students, in cooperation with the Church, to become skilled in ministry. The Church and the seminary share the goal of seeing knowledge, skills and attitudes integrated in the person who ministers. Both in traditional degree programs and in continuing education, a combination of careful training and supervised experience in ministry are educational practices essential to achieving that goal.
Article 4: To work with the churches towards the maturing of students so that their experiential knowledge of God in Christ is evidenced in their character, outlook, conduct, relationships, and involvement in society. Academic learning divorced from a life of biblical spirituality neither honors God nor serves His people. Such spirituality is to be expressed cognitively, relationally, and socially. It is to be translated into action, God’s people embodying His compassion, declaring His justice and articulating His truth in society.
Article 5: To provide leadership and educational resources for shaping an effective evangelical presence in Church and society. Gordon-Conwell’s academic and institutional resources are to be put into the service of the Christian community to provide careful research on and informed understanding of critical issues, as well as in exercising leadership in learned societies, in movements of renewal and reform and in a variety of off-campus ministries in order to develop a more informed understanding of what the lordship of Christ means in our contemporary world.
Article 6: To develop in students a vision for God’s redemptive work throughout the world and to formulate the strategies that will lead to effective missions, evangelism, and discipleship. The central mission of the Triune God is the creation of a fellowship of men and women who are mature in Christ and who will love and serve Him forever. This mission is realized evangelistically through the proclamation of the biblical gospel by those who embody the message they proclaim and who seek to make disciples from all peoples.
Gratitude outweighs the fear, to be here, right now, in the most unreached region of our country. Because He is Emmanuel.
“Many of us believe God can and will do something great again in New England.”